I’ve been sheltering in place, more or less, since mid-March, when I got back from Left Coast Crime, which turned out to be about 24 hours long instead of the usual long weekend. I flew to San Diego on Thursday morning and the San Diego County Health Department cancelled the convention that afternoon. After rescheduling my flight to Friday morning, I adjourned to the bar. Me and a lot of other attendees. Prosecco helps!
A few days later, the governor issued the first stay-at-home order for California. Aside from my weekly jaunts to do errands and buy groceries, I’ve been—no surprise—staying at home. I did venture as far as Sonoma County at the start of the summer. From time to time, I get together for lunch with fellow authors Marcia Muller and Margaret Lucke, at a nice restaurant where we sit and talk as we eat delicious food. Not happening in 2020. We brought our own lunches and ate while socially distanced on a sunny back deck.
That’s the farthest I’ve traveled, including that jaunt to Berkeley to see my dentist after his office finally reopened. The good doctor wore a face shield and one of those paper suits. He ruefully informed me this was the “new normal.” Right now, normal is my collection of masks in a container near the front door, ready to grab and wear whenever I leave the house.
The lockdown of 2020, which has now spilled over into 2021, did not propel me into cleaning house or decluttering the closets. You know, those things I said I would do if only I had more time. Well, I had more time, but I can put that stuff off another year or so, just watch me.
More time to write, yes. And I used it. I finally finished a book called The Sacrificial Daughter.
I started the book over five years ago, in 2015. It took me a long time to write it because I was also writing books for Perseverance Press.
During that time, I wrote two books each in the Jeri Howard series (Water Signs and The Devil Close Behind) plus two books in the California Zephyr historical series (The Ghost in Roomette Four and Death Above the Line). I was under contract to finish those books by a certain date, so they took precedence.
Once I finished each book, I went back to The Sacrificial Daughter, reading through what I’d already written to get the creative juices flowing again, making decisions about characters, settings and point of view.
When the lockdown came in mid-March, Death Above the Line was on its way through the publication process. Suddenly I had time. My 2020 calendar, full of dates to go to the theater, the symphony, museums, now had page after page of cross-outs. Not going anywhere. At that point, I was already well into The Sacrificial Daughter, about three-quarters of the way, with a good idea of how it was going to end—and how to get there.
I got there. I finished the first complete draft. Then I read and tweaked and polished my way through revisions, with an assist from several readers.
I plan to publish the book myself, in my role as one-half of a publishing company called Bodie Blue Books. Back in the day, my publisher handled all that stuff. Now it’s me, shepherding my new book through formatting, cover design, and copyright.
Come February, I hope, The Sacrificial Daughter will be published, by me, in my role as publisher for Bodie Blue Books.
So I did get something done during lockdown, even if it wasn’t cleaning out my closet.